TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Florida Gov. Rick Scott unveiled on Thursday a $74.2 billion proposed budget, which is an increase of roughly 6 percent from last year.
Scott wants to give a $2,500 across-the-board pay hike for the state's teachers as part of a $1.2 billion increase in school spending. Scott is "doubling down" on last year's billion-dollar investment in public education. That's a 6.5 percent increase in spending for public schools, which boils down to about $6,800 total per student.
"Let's see exactly where the funds are going to be allocated and what kind of flexibility will the district have in using those funds," said Duval County superintendent Nikolai Vitti.
Scott is also proposing a $1,200 bonus to state workers. Scott has been a critic of the federal health care overhaul. But his budget does not address whether the state should expand Medicaid to cover roughly 900,000 Floridians. The expansion was part of the Affordable Care Act but the U.S. Supreme Court last year made it optional for states.
Scott is recommending cuts in several areas, including cutting payments to hospitals and eliminating more than 3,600 state jobs. Roughly 1,200 of these positions are currently vacant. The governor also proposes shuttering several driver's license offices.
Scott does not recommend any tax hikes to pay for his budget. But he is recommending that lawmakers eliminate sales taxes on equipment bought for manufacturing. The governor also wants to exempt another 2,000 businesses from paying the state's corporate income tax.